Farming is a dying sector

11 October 2019 | Agriculture

Namibian farmers should diversify their income away from livestock and crop farming and enter new sectors.

This is the view of Vehaka Tjimune, the senior policy advisor at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

He was speaking at the Agricultural Outlook Conference that took place in Windhoek this week.

“We certainly cannot do farming the same orthodox way while the environment has changed significantly and expect different or better results every time,” said Tjimune.

He said farmers should consider the biomass sector as an option, as it includes opportunities such as the production of animal fodder, wood chips and charcoal production.

According to him the charcoal sector employs 6 000 people and bush feed production between 3 000 and 4 000 people.

“Namibia has the opportunity to pioneer innovation on bush to feed,” said Tjimune.

He pointed out that Namibia is one of the driest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and more than half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture.

“Namibia is therefore potentially vulnerable to climate change.”

According to him, historical rainfall data indicate an increasing trend of droughts followed by harmful floods.

Tjimune further pointed out that livestock revenue is strongly correlated to annual rainfall, saying that a 1% change in rainfall equals a 1.36% change in revenue, while a 20% decline in rainfall equals a 27% drop in revenue. He said in reality climate change is happening much faster than what is projected.

“Namibia is projected to get drier, not wetter.”

According to him, climate change alone will result in Namibia losing 9 million hectares of land suitable for cattle farming by 2045 and this figure will increase to 18 million hectares by 2065.

“Is livestock, crop, tourism and game farming therefore still a safe investment mode, and for how long?”

He said adaptation is crucial to prepare for the next drought and making farming ventures less dependent on rain, grazing and groundwater.

Tjimune said Namibia should be developed as a value-addition hub for raw agricultural products from the sub-region.

“Synergies along value chains make it possible for the sub-region to have intra-trade.”

He further added that Namibia should exploit its image to produce quality products that meet high standards.